Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, introduced bipartisan legislation today to reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program. The Special Diabetes Program Reauthorization Act of 2023 would reauthorize and strengthen vital Type 1 diabetes research happening at the National Institutes of Health and renew critical treatment, education, and prevention programs for at-risk populations, specifically Native American and Alaska Native communities, who experience Type 2 diabetes at nearly three times the national average.
For more than 25 years, the Special Diabetes Program – comprised of the Special Statutory Funding Program for Type 1 Diabetes Research and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) – has delivered meaningful resources and research breakthroughs for those with Type 1 diabetes and also for Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Without an extension, both programs are at risk of expiring at the end of the fiscal year. The bill would fund both components at $170 million for fiscal year 2024 and fiscal year 2025, in addition to sustaining funding at the comparable level through December 31, 2025.
“Renewal of the SDP is absolutely critical to accelerating the progress we have made over the past two decades to treat, and one day cure, Type 1 diabetes, as well as continue much-needed support, education, and diabetes treatment in Native American and Alaska Native communities,” said Senator Collins. “Today’s research represents tomorrow’s cure. The Special Diabetes Program is a cost-effective investment toward improving lives and reducing health care expenditures, and I urge my colleagues to support a multi-year extension of this important program so that one day we will find a cure to this debilitating disease.”
“We must do everything in our power to ensure the 37 million Americans living with diabetes receive the best treatment possible while we work towards a cure,” said Senator Shaheen. “I am proud to push for increased investment in the Special Diabetes Program, which will help us to better treat, prevent and ultimately cure diabetes. This vital program is responsible for groundbreaking discoveries that have helped the millions of Americans living with or at-risk of developing diabetes, and with more investment, we can truly put an end to this deadly disease.”
“Special Diabetes Program funding is instrumental and necessary to educate and address high rates of diabetes in Indian Country. Native Americans are high risk for diabetes, and the funding will continue the much needed support, education and treatment in our communities,” said Chief Nicholas, Passamaquoddy Tribe.
“JDRF is grateful to Senators Susan Collins and Jeanne Shaheen, two incredible type 1 diabetes (T1D) champions, for introducing the Special Diabetes Program Reauthorization Act, which renews the SDP with a critical increase in funding through December 2025,” said Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of JDRF. “This renewal will grow the impact of the SDP in pursuit of cures and a better life for all affected by T1D.”
“The Endocrine Society is happy to endorse legislation introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program for Type 1 Diabetes and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians,” said Robert Lash, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the Endocrine Society. “SDP and SDPI play a critical role in addressing the scourge of diabetes throughout our country. SDP has advanced transformational research to delay the full onset of Type 1 diabetes, better understand the underlying causes of diabetes, and to prevent, treat, and reverse complications of this disease. SDPI has provided critical treatment and education for Type 2 diabetes among American Indians and Alaska Natives. We applaud Senator Collins and Shaheen for their leadership and look forward to Senate consideration and bipartisan support of this needed legislation before these programs expire September 30th.”
“The National Indian Health Board expresses appreciation to Senators Collins and Shaheen for their leadership in introducing a 2-year reauthorization for SDPI at $170 million per year. After two decades of stagnant funding, the NIHB is glad to see this essential program finally receiving a much-needed increase. By allowing Tribes to determine their own approach, SDPI has become the nation’s most effective federal initiative to combat diabetes and serves as a useful model both for diabetes programs nationwide and public health programs in Indian Country and beyond. This program not only saves lives, but millions of dollars in federal resources in reduced costs to Medicare and Medicaid. If enacted, this bill will help SDPI grantees provide more services to American Indians and Alaska Natives for type 2 diabetes treatment and prevention. Introduction of this bill is one important step on the journey to achieving permanent reauthorization of SDPI.”
“The American Diabetes Association (ADA) supports this legislation to extend and increase funding for the Special Diabetes Program and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, which are critical for type 1 diabetes research,” said Lisa Murdock, Chief Advocacy Officer of the ADA. “The ADA deeply appreciates Senators Shaheen and Collins for their commitment to the diabetes community, and we look forward to working together to secure additional resources for SDP, SDPI and federal diabetes research in the future.”
The Special Diabetes Program consists of two components: the Special Statutory Funding Program for Type 1 Diabetes Research which supports research to prevent, treat, and cure type 1 diabetes and its complications; and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians which supports diabetes treatment and prevention strategies for American Indian and Alaska Native populations who are disproportionately burdened with Type 2 diabetes.
As co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Senators Collins and Shaheen have worked together to increase awareness of the threats posed by diabetes, invest in research, and improve access to treatment options. Both Senators have led efforts in Congress to ensure continued support for the Special Diabetes Program. Last month, Senators Collins and Shaheen led a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership emphasizing the importance of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) that was signed by a total of 60 Senators.